Gibson guitar boss bemoans ‘government persecution’ after police raid on factory

Maker of rock'n'roll icon the Les Paul raided by US agents searching for illegal wood

Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz has hit back at the US government after one of the iconic guitar manufacturer’s factory was raided by government officials.

The workshop – where guitars such as the Les Paul, ES335 and SG are made, used by virtually every band since the late 50s – was searched by agents of the US Fish And Wildlife Service who were looking for illegally obtained exotic hardwoods.

Juszkiewicz has since blasted the actions of agents as “outrageous abuse of federal power”, saying his company has been unfairly singled out for political reasons.

“There’s no doubt we’re being persecuted,” he told The Tennessean after two of the company’s South Nashville guitar factories were searched, along with another in Memphis.

Boxes containing rosewood and ebony were taken from the factories, along with finished guitars, guitar necks, computers and shipping documents. It’s the second time in the past two years Gibson had been raided by federal agents in search of illegal wood.

Previous raids are yet to lead to any charges against the 117-year-old guitar-maker, Federal authorities suspect the company is using illegally imported stock from protected sources in dwindling rainforests.

A statement from the Rainforest Alliance said Gibson has made a good effort to locate and import legal woods since the earlier raid, but added that the effort “also must be accompanied by a clear commitment to eliminating any volume, no matter how small, of illegal wood that may contaminate its supply chain”.

Gibson’s electric guitars are known for their warm, thick sound, and, popularised by the likes of Led Zeppelin‘s Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton in the 60s, became intrinsically linked with rock and blues.

Watch a video of Jimmy Page playing his famous double-necked Gibson SG below.